South Australian Country Fire Service Promotions Unit

Raising awareness of the roles, training and activities of CFS Volunteers state-wide


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1998-99 Promotions Unit Annual Report
Submitted On Wednesday, October 13, 1999
Submitted By Pip McGowan (Unit Coordinator)

The last 12 months has been very busy for the Promotions unit committee. The number of bookings for the Pantech has increased, and so has the number of events that the Promotions Committee provides members to assist.

The Promotions Unit has been very active in taking photographs, for use in the Pantech, the Promotions Unit website, and at times some CFS HQ Publications. The Unit has also been active in collecting video footage for use in our own Promotional Video.

The Promotions unit website has also been getting busier, with it averaging around 20 "hits" per week. The information on the website continues to expand!

The Pantech was revamped in September 1999, to give the interior a new look, in layout, photos and information.

Despite warnings from other Emergency Services about the public perception of the ESL, the Promotions Unit has hardly encountered any ill feeling about the ESL. The public have shown to be supportive of the CFS with one comment summing up the CFS: "You guys do a good job, so we don't mind paying a bit for you"

Two new sponsors Quell and Westpac have come aboard this year.

Despite some misinformation, the Promotions Unit is run entirely by Volunteers, and not by paid staff.

The Promotions Unit has organised several events during the last 12 months. Along with the events generated by brigades, the Promotions Committee has also generated its own work through events organised outside CFS area.

One of the largest events organised by the Promotions Committee, was a photo shoot held at Torrens Parade Ground in May 1999. Around 38 Fire appliances attended, and over 200 CFS members. The Committee with a limited budget, arranged breakfast, morning tea and lunch for all those who attended, with thanks to the Sponsors. The resulting photographs were very pleasing!

The next major event was the Jambo 99, held in May 1999 at Woodhouse Scout Camp, Piccadilly. With very short notice, the Promotions Unit provided the pantech and crew, and along with assistance from a few brigades , assisted with "Emergency Service" exercises for over 300 scouts over 3 days.

The next major event, was the Royal Adelaide Show, held in September 1999. The Pantech was situated in the Trade North west area, adjacent to the Side Shows. Not an ideal location, due to the close proximity of the Side Shows, however I believe a worth while event. Crews manning the unit gave away posters (albeit old ones), Smoky Activity Booklets and Stickers. A BBQ was provided for all CFS members working on the stand. This proved to be very successful.
A BBQ tea was also provided to all those who worked on the Main Arena Demonstrations. At one stage, there were 8 fire appliances, 2 command vehicles and the Pantech parked on the stand. A very impressive sight! Representatives of 25 brigades assisted on the show stand. The Promotions Unit also ran 3 major choreographed arena demonstrations. A total of 9 appliances were used each time, including "Morphett point 4" a small promotional unit from Morphett Vale. Representatives of 16 brigades assisted at the demos. The members involved in this should be applauded for their efforts. Some traveled for more than an hour each way, on each of three nights to be involved. They also attended a number of rehersals. The brigades involved were: Nairne, Basket Range, Norton Summit, Morphett Vale, Tea Tree Gully, Strathalbyn, Aldinga Beach, Sellicks, Yankalilla, Riverton, Eden Hills, Stirling, Belair, Blackwood, Jervois and Oakbank-Balhannah. As a result of this event, the Royal Show Society awarded the Promotions Unit $1000 for our efforts.

Another major event was the Field Days held at Paskeville. It proved to be an extremely busy three days, with a large number of CFS members coming through the Unit. It gave the Promotions Unit members an opportunity to update information on the Promotions Unit website, and to let CFS members know what the Pantech may be able to help them with. As a result of this, several bookings were made.

There were many other events the Pantech attended, and was looked after by the local brigade. It is becoming clear that for many brigades, providing one or two members of the promotions committee, to drive the unit to the site, and assist in setting up and running an event is the way to go. There has been an increase in the number of requests for that type of help. So far, the Promotions Unit has been able to provide the assistance requested.

Between October 1998, and now, the Pantch has attended over 40 different events, with events ranging from a few hours to 11 days in length. During September and October 1999, the unit is rarely idle for more than 4 days in a row!

The bookings have increased for the unit, and I would hope with the work the Promotions Unit Committee is doing, the booking will increase further.

Photographs and Video Footage

The Promotions Unit is lucky to have the Services of Greg Liddle, for photography. Greg, and other members of the Promotions Unit have attended a number of events (particularly Field days) and taken numerous photographs. Greg was also responsible for photos at Torrens Parade Ground. The Promotions Unit now has a large collection of photographs of CFS (over 1500 photos). The collection is used for the interior of the Pantech, on the Promotions Unit website, and also in publications produced by various agencies, including CFS HQ, and ESAU. It is unfortunate in some circumstances that the good will of volunteers is taken advantage of, and proper recognition is not given. This occurs only in a small number of cases.

Along with photographs, the Promotions Unit is starting to collect its own video footage. With the assistance of a grant from "Spirit of the Community", the Promotions Unit has engaged the assistance of Grant Wood, from Grant Wood Productions to video tape CFS Events. A short video has already been produced, for use in the Pantech, and further footage is still being collected. Unfortunately there are limited opportunities to collect footage, and consequently, the process of building up a new video can be at times quite slow.

Promotions Unit Website

The Promotions Unit maintains its own website, at`thetruck. The site is actually maintained by Nick Warwick, the founder of the Unit.

The site contains information about the CFS,VFBA, and a large section focussing on every brigade in the state. This section is known as the ERGUIDE. There are two ERGUIDE versions one on the web, which contains limited information about ALL fire stations in the state (CFS/MFS, NPW, Forestry SA). The "in truck" version contains
expanded information. This information includes where the brigade is situated, how to contact them, how to join, whether Cadets are accepted, what equipment is carried by the brigade, what appliances they have etc. The information is quite comprehensive, and is updated by a mail out each year to each brigade/group, and by CFS members coming into the unit.

A copy of the website version of the ERGUIDE has been given to CFS HQ to assist in recruiting.

E-mail Service

The Promotions Unit has recently started up and e-mail service. Any individual (CFS member) or brigade with an e-mail address can be added to the E-mail list. This means that any time there is an event coming up, where appliances or crews are needed, an e-mail is sent to all those on the list. Brigades/individuals can then decide if they want to be part of that particular event. There are a number of brigades who regularly provide appliances and crews events outside CFS area. These brigades are: Aldinga Beach, Sellicks Beach, Gawler River, Nairne, Jervois, Morphett Vale, Port Vincent, Port Clinton, Stansbury and Corny Point. There are a number of other brigades who assist on an occasional basis.

Any brigade can assist at events where additional crews are needed. An e-mail address is preferable, as we do not have time to individually contact brigades about upcoming events.

The e-mail service has also started to send out other information that brigades normally wouldn't get eg All Regional newsletters, Proposed Memorandum of Understanding etc. It is a service we are providing to allow as many CFS members as possible to access to information that comes out.

Promotions Committee

The Current Promotions Committee consists of 9 members:

  • Pip McGowan (Coordinator) (Basket Range)
  • Ashley Hosking (Nairne)
  • David Richardson (Strathalbyn)
  • Nicki Harris (Morphett Vale)
  • Paquita McDonald (Norton Summit)
  • David Coates (Echunga)
  • Greg Liddle (Basket Range)
  • Brad Eccles (Tea Tree Gully)
  • Gilbert Van der Aue (Oakbank-Balhannah)

There are a number of others who regularly assist, but who are not members of the Committee.

Where to in the Future

The Promotions Unit is a valuable Asset for the CFS, and in particular for Volunteers. With the advent of ESAU, there is no one at CFS HQ to promote the Volunteer the core of the service. Volunteers must promote themselves, because if they don't, no one else will. The lack of bad mouthing and abuse encountered by CFS members working on the Pantech shows, I believe, that the public perception of the CFS is very good the public see the CFS, and CFS Volunteers as an essential service, and are prepared to pay for it. Other Volunteer (and paid) services perhaps do not have such a good image, and consequently are receiving abuse from the public, due to a lack of understanding of their roles.

The good perception of the CFS, by the public has been helped by the presence of the Promotions Unit, and by other committees, Groups and Individuals. It is important that we continue to promote Volunteers.

One thing lacking from Promotions is new Promotional literature and posters. For a while, there were numerous posters and information, snapped up by enthusiastic members of the public, CFS members and other Emergency Service members. Unfortunately, there are very few new publications, and no new posters this year. Many kids who come to the unit refuse to take posters, because they already have them at home from a previous event!

While the Promotions Unit has ideas and photos for publications/posters, the VFBA shouldn't have the responsibility of paying for these. Comments are often made from brigades and members of the public about the lack of "Showbags" - plastic bags to out in brochures posters etc that are given out. Again, I do not believe that the VFBA should have to fund these, but they are something that we do need.

The Promotions Unit is growing more brigades, and individuals are utilising the unit. Some bookings are being made over 12 months in advance, so that local brigades are guaranteed to have the Pantech for a particular event.

With the increased use, so comes increased cost fuel, service, phone calls, increased travel costs for Committee members. With very limited access to vehicles, the Promotions Unit Committee is forced to take their own vehicles. For long trips, they will claim for their travelling (eg to Field days etc). With the increased cost, comes an uncertainty. With the decrease in funding to the VFBA, and consequently the decrease in funding the Promotions Unit, alternative sources of funding must be sought. The Promotions Unit Committee is starting to look at other ways of funding this resource.

Another uncertainty is where the Pantech will be located once CFS HQ closes. The only alternative to be suggested so far is Brukunga Training Centre, which I believe is not a suitable place for the unit to be stored, in particular, due to the distance from Adelaide, and the distance from other resources (eg to collect additional brochures from CFS HQ/ESAU HQ, and then take them up to Brukunga creates more time and expense for the Committee).

This is another challenge to be faced, by both the VFBA and Promotions Unit Committee.

I will take this opportunity to thank the members of the CFS/VFBA Promotions committee for their efforts over the past 12 months. I work them hard, and they work themselves hard. They come up with countless ideas as to what we can do with the unit, and put many of those ideas into practice. Thanks guys.

I would also like to thank those brigades and individuals who assist the unit on a regular basis. Many of these people travel long distances (eg about 4 hours each way) to come to events just because they want to. These brigades and individuals are generally enthusiastic, well trained, and willing to be part of events. Thank you.

And last, a thank you to the brigades who use the Promotions Unit by utilising the unit, you show that it is a worthwhile asset.

Pip McGowan


CFS/VFBA Promotions Unit

October 1999

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